Geoff Egan

Bundaberg leads the way in child protection

BUNDABERG'S child protection sector has yet again been recognised as one of the best in the state.

Three Bundaberg child protection programs were recognised at Parliament House in Brisbane on Thursday - a third of all the awards given.

They follow other Bundaberg-led safety programs that have been recognised in previous years.

A program at the Bundaberg North State School, an education initiative at the Bundaberg Child Safety Service Centre and a discussion project held at the Bundaberg YMCA have been recognised at the Queensland Child Protection Awards.

The Bundaberg North State School's Bear Plan program won the Community Initiative award.

School guidance counsellor Alan Bowmaker said the program began after the floods for traumatised children.

"We noticed there were kids who were acting out and not behaving in school - kids who this was very out of character for," he said.

The program began giving children teddy bears for comfort at school and that has been extended to any kids who think they need a hand.

They then use a strategy of BEAR- Breath, Exit, Ask, Relax to help the kids deal with stresses.

But Mr Bowmaker said there was strong community support for child protection programs in Bundaberg through the Bundaberg Child Protection Week Action Group.

Another Bundaberg program - the Child2Child Promoting Protection day - was named the Media and Communications program of the year.

The program involves a range of Bundaberg community groups who work to encourage kids to talk to others about child safety. Some participants also worked with ABC Wide Bay to become junior reporters for the day.

Phill Sellwood said the Bundaberg CPWAG was the type of group other towns could learn from to develop child protection strategies.

"I absolutely think it could be used in other towns. It gives us a great space to organise for the week and to bounce ideas off each other," he said.

Bundaberg Child Safety Service Centre senior practitioner Veronica Taylor said Bundaberg's child safety professionals all knew and supported each other.

Ms Taylor was awarded the education initiative award at the ceremony yesterday.

She said the sector was supportive of each other's ideas and efforts. She said that environment encouraged people to try new ideas to help kids in need. - ARM NEWSDESK